I recently acquired a new turntable and tone arm (VPI Avenger/Kuzma 4pt-11) included in the purchase was an Acoustical Systems SMARTracktor and Smart Stylus. Tools which I have not previously used
I first set-up my cart (Dynavector XX2 MKII) using the supplied protractor and mounting distance template from Kuzma and setting VTA and azimuth by ear/eye and tracking force in the middle of the range recommended by Dynavector (2.0g)
I set the gain (SPP) on medium and loaded the cart @ 30 ohms per DV recommendation (which was too low for my taste and ended up at 200 ohms) Overall it sounded good but not great, I tweaked VTA a bit which helped smooth out the top a little but did not correct the low end issues which remained a little “muddy” not tight and punchy, which I believe we all desire
I then started from scratch with the SMARTracktor and found the mounting distance and the pivot to spindle distance measured short by 2mm which, when corrected forced a change to alignment, overhang, etc. Set VTA and azimuth using the smart stylus tool, which is intended only to get you close, then tweaked VTA by ear and re-set tracking force to 2.0g using Loefgren B tangential curve as it seems the most common. Acoustical Systems recommends their own UNI-DIN curve which I may try down the road
The set-up with the SMARTracktor produced much improved overall performance to my ear. Improved dynamics, with a punchy bottom end and smooth treble. Gain adjustment remained on medium with loading re-set to 100 ohms which sounded best to me (thanks @DarrenMyers for the on the fly gain and loading features on the SPP)
This all has me wondering if trying cartridge set-up software with test discs (Analog Magik) would produce even better results, I have a local dealer with the software but disassembling the rig and bringing in to him would be a huge PITA. Not sure if it would be worth the effort and expense. $220-$450 depending on weather I brought everything to him or he came to my house for a complete set-up and tuning
So, long story for a short question…What tools are you using to dial in your arms/carts? has anyone used cartridge set-up software with positive results?
I am by no means an expert and I may be over thinking and over complicating things…
Thanks in advance for any comments and advice!